CHICO — With its next election cycle less than a year out, the city of Chico is beginning its redistricting process to align with the recently released 2020 census data.
The Chico City Council heard a presentation during its Tuesday meeting from Claudio Gallegos, a consultant with ARDA Demographics, which the city hired to handle the process.
Gallegos broke down the process and what the city can expect going forward.
One of the largest changes for the city has been the uptick in population size. The estimated population of Chico currently is 103,301, compared to 86,798 in 2010, according to the US Census Bureau. Much like how Paradise lost most of its citizens due to the Camp Fire, Chico gained a large amount as former residents of Paradise were displaced elsewhere.
The growth in population also includes the annexations of Chapman and Mulberry into the city, Gallegos said.
Though this is only the beginning stage in Chico’s redistricting, some things will look similar to what Butte County has been working through. ARDA Demographics has two methods of allowing residents to create their own maps. The first allows for printouts of the city as well as its census blocks so members of the public can physically create their own maps.
The second method is a digital program ARDA Demographics is putting forward where residents can create maps online.
In addition to releasing these tools to the public, the firm will offer workshops so people can learn how to use the software and create maps.
Gallegos explained communities of interest to the council and defined them as “a neighborhood or geographically defined group with shared interests or characteristics that could be affected by district boundaries.”
It was also iterated that the districts drawn cannot have more than a 10 percent population difference, or deviation, between the highest and lowest populated districts.
Based on the request submitted by the council and the public, consultants with the firm will bring a series of maps before the city council to choose from.
Mayor Andrew Coolidge asked whether the city could potentially end up with a map similar to or the same as the one it has now should the population sizes change together and therefore not create too high of a deviation.
Gallegos said it was a possibility and if it does end up being the case the council could bring the same map back for consideration.
Vice Mayor Kacey Reynolds confirmed with Gallegos that he would also be bringing additional, alternative maps should the original map still stand.
Councilor Sean Morgan noted that Gallegos had previously worked with California State Representative Lou Correa, a Democrat, and asked whether Gallegos could create maps without bias.
Gallegos confirmed that he could and added that he believed Correa was one of the most moderate Democrats in the state.
A minimum of four public hearings will need to be held throughout the remapping process with at least one happening after 6 p.m. to allow for those who work during the day to attend.
Draft maps being considered by the council need to be posted no fewer than six days before a public hearing.
Unlike the county, the city of Chico is on a different timeline for completing its map. The hard deadline is April 15, 2022. This is in line with upcoming elections.
The Chico City Council meets at 6 p.m. every first and third Tuesday of the month at 421 Main St. Meetings are free and open to the public.